Every year I usually do an annual end-of-year review of what did well in the garden, and what didn’t. This year I am sort of jumping the gun to give a review of some of my current favorites that I have been harvesting and eating. It’s no secret that tomatoes are the most popular and most widely planted vegetable by home gardeners here in the U.S. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are easy to grow though. I’ve been growing them for many years now, but they don’t always do as well as I would like due to weather and other factors. It’s proving to be a great year here in 2021 for tomatoes, so I’ll start with a few of my favorites.
I have several favorite slicing tomatoes for fresh eating, and Damsel is near the top of the current list. Damsel has pink skin and a sweet, tangy red flesh. I first grew it as a part of my testing of late blight resistant tomatoes, and it has proven to be one of the best I have tested so far. Seed catalogs like Territorial Seed Company claim it has a flavor “typically only found in heirlooms”. I have to agree, and we have been enjoying all the fruits my one plant has produced so far. We have done several tastings this year, and it has beaten the competition handily every time. Next year I need to set out more than one plant and skip some of the others!
Garden Treasure is a red slicing tomato I have been growing for about six years now. It was released by the University of Florida Klee Lab for tomato research, and until recently was only available by making a modest donation ($10) to their research program. For that they sent you seeds for it plus their Garden Gem tomato. In our garden, Garden Treasure makes loads of juicy, tasty tomatoes that grow on strong indeterminate vines. It has been a favorite here ever since I started growing it. Seeds are now available online at Proven Winners, where the listing says it was bred “to have true heirloom taste, with modern disease resistance and high yield of large fruit.” Once again, I have to agree!
Cherry Bomb is a cherry tomato with excellent late blight resistance, and it is my third year growing it. I can say it is definitely my favorite cherry tomato at the moment, and possibly my favorite ever! The slightly elongated round fruits are sweet and in my garden very resistant to cracking and splitting. I confess I’ve snacked on quite a few out in the garden, and for that matter I generally head straight to Cherry Bomb if I’m looking for cherry type tomatoes for use in the kitchen. My one caged plant has yielded five pounds of tomatoes so far, and the vines are still growing strong. In addition to fresh use, I have also dried them and slow-roasted them for later use.
Moving on to other things, acorn squash Goldilocks is a 2021 AAS Winner. This spring I set out two plants that were sent to my by the folks at AAS for trial. Both plants did well, and I got around a dozen squash total from the plants. The ones I’ve been harvesting are right about one pound, which is a good size for the two of us to share for a meal.
Goldilocks is truly one of the best tasting hybrid acorn squash I have ever grown. The seed cavity is small, and the orange/yellow flesh has a great taste and texture. I plan to grow this one again in 2022, and perhaps will set out more plants than I did this year.
Early Bulam is a Korean squash that is nicknamed ‘avocado squash’ because of it’s shape. Botanically, it is a C. moschata squash that is used in the green stage much like tromboncino is usually used. It grows on vigorous vines that I have trellised to keep them off the ground.
I think it has a much better flavor than the tromboncino, and it is a favorite here in the kitchen for sure. The squash has much more flavor than a zucchini, and the flesh is less watery. I really enjoy cutting these squash into cubes and sautéing in a bit of olive oil.
Gretel and Fairy Tale are two more AAS Winners, Gretel from 2009 and Fairy Tale in 2005. I am growing both these in containers, where they have yielded an impressive amount of tasty, tender fruits. We love these eggplant roasted, grilled and in stir-fries. The flesh and skin are tender and mild.
And last but certainly not least, the Mini Munch cucumber has become my new favorite cuke. The fruits have a tender skin and crisp, seedless mild flesh. I have these growing in our greenhouse, where they were early to yield and quite prolific. We have enjoyed these on salads and other dishes, as well as when turned into refrigerator pickles.
I hope you have enjoyed this review of some of my favorite things from the garden in 2021. I’ll be back soon with more adventures from Happy Acres!.